Gov. Paul LePage on Tuesday urged his Republican colleagues in the Maine Legislature to prepare for a political battle over his most recent and last two-year budget proposal as governor.

“I’m going to ask the Republicans for once in their lives, for once in their lives, once in my eight years as governor, please fix bayonets and let’s get to battle because we can win this, the Maine people want it,” LePage said during a radio interview on Bangor-based WVOM. “It’s just that we don’t show strength in the Legislature, we always cave.”

LePage’s comments come a day after top Democratic leaders panned his $6.8 billion budget proposal, saying it regurgitates past failed proposals and tries to cut taxes for the wealthy while further dismantling the state’s safety net for the poor.

But LePage told radio hosts Ric Tyler and George Hale on Tuesday that his budget was meant to push those who can work to do so while protecting the state’s welfare resources for the most vulnerable elderly and disabled people.

A voter-approved boost to the state’s minimum wage means almost everybody who works will be above the federal poverty line of $11,880 for an individual. LePage said that means they can purchase their own health care insurance on the federal marketplace exchange instead of receiving state-sponsored Medicaid.

“And they can get it for as little as $1.50 a month and it may go up to $20-$25 a month,” LePage said. “I believe it is the only right thing to do to have able-bodied people in this state go to work and help those that are most vulnerable.”


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